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History of Tattoos - Ancient Art Revisited

Author: Bob Matheson

Tattoos are a passionate topic today. People get tattoos for a lot of reasons. Millions of styles have been applied and continue to be created. But tattoos are not a new fad. The history of tattoos is a novel, not a short story, and they have been around for a long time.

Oetzi The Iceman

No one can truly say when the history of tattoos all started. The most ancient known tattoo was exposed in 1991. It was found on a mummy called Oetzi, an Iceman dated to be not less than 5300 years old. His tattoos consist of horizontal and vertical lines. There is a certain amount of dispute as to the reason the tattoos are there.

Upon discovering the remains, researchers have been able to do little but presume that this most archaic type of tattoo was designed with the intent of warding off evil spirits, or that it may possibly have been some kind of rite-of-passage.

The most widespread premise is that the tattoos were created for medicinal factors. Oetzi's fifty-seven tattoos are located on various joints on the body. The assumption is that the tattoos were made while a type of acupuncture was administered to relieve painful joints. In the present day, the identical locations are used for acupuncture. Other ideas range from social status and ritual markings to ethnic symbols or simple preference.

Collectively on his backbone and behind one knee and on one ankle, the Ice Man had roughly fifty-seven tattoos. Although it's not possible to do more than guess as to the actual reason for them, it certainly indicates that tattoos should not be seen as exclusive to the contemporary era.

Seeing that the Ice Man is the most primitive mummified human remains discovered in Europe, today's tattoo fans have the past on their side-- there is nothing "modern" about the history of tattoos.

Ancient Egypt

The Egyptians are one of the most recognized ancient societies for tattoos. Dating back to 2100 BC, discovered mummies have been found to be decorated in various tattoos. Women displayed tattoo styles that were restricted to women only. These designs were mostly a series of lines and dots around the body. Tattoos among the Egyptians are believed to have been types of ritual markings.

Oriental Tattoos

In Japan, tattoos were first applied on clay figures. These human shaped figures were representative of a deceased individual and were discovered in the sepulchres of the person they resembled. The tattoos had been imprinted or painted on the faces of the figures. It is thought that these markings have religious or spiritual significance. The figures have been found in burying places that have been dated from 3,000 BC.

Japan's first recognizable tattoo is from 297 AD and has been demonstrated to be for decorative purposes only. Tattoo artists were named the "Horis" in Japan. The Horis were acknowledged as masters and ultimately created the full body suit tattoo.

Although Oriental symbols are very widespread for tattoos in America, it is not widely recognized that both the Japanese and Chinese cultures have maintained a fervent opposition to the tradition of tattooing throughout history. With both societal and religious viewpoints agreeing that tattooing is something which should not be done, it's still considered to be a way of contaminating one's body. For the ancient Chinese, tattooing was used as a penalty for criminal activity, placing such visible marks on a person to forever brand him as a criminal.

Tattoos have been found to be present in history all over the world. They have been determined to be a symbol of an assortment of things such as social status, religious conviction and many times simply for adornment. Found on men and women alike, tattoos have been discovered in every shape, dimension and color pattern imaginable. Regardless of whether they have been demonstrated to be something that was once held sacred or they are for decoration only, tattoos have been around for a long time and will continue to be around for a long time to come.

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